A Review of the Sony ICF-24 AM/FM Portable Radio

Just so we’re all clear:  I do not own the featured image on this page.  I must and will give all credit to whomever credit is due…

I had been fascinated by all electronics since about the age of one or two.

Definitely, at age two, I developed a fascination with radios.

There was a hand-me-down Sears transistor radio that belonged to my parents. I played with it from the ages of two until four when it was suddenly misplaced.

At the age of eight is when I became even more interested in radios because my morning bus driver would play a station that was popular with kids, teens, and even young adults. That station was Mix 104.1 with the call letters KHOM, later KUMX. It kept this format from 1994 until June 29, 2001. I listened to it very frequently from late 1995 until the format changed and was pretty angry when it did.

My paternal grandparents helped raise me when my parents were working or running errands. And if I was sick on a school day, I stayed at their house. This means I saw them a lot.

At some point in probably late 1996, my Great Aunt gave my Maw Maw a radio. It was a Sony ICF-24.

I think it was so she could listen to the Thibodaux, Louisiana, station, KTIB on 640 AM. At the time, that station was playing music that older people would have listened to. My Maw Maw sewed safety hats for welders as a side hustle well into her 80s and my Paw Paw raised cattle and produce until the age of 89.

The only time I remember my grandparents listening to it was if the electricity was out, such as after Hurricane Katrina.

They were much more fixated on watching cable news channels, especially CNN and later MS-NBC.

I think they subscribed to cable just to watch those channels.

However, I frequently listened to that Sony as a child, teenager, and even into my adult years whenever I was at their house. While waiting to catch the bus for school, if I wasn’t watching television, I was probably sleeping or listening to that radio.

My Paw Paw died on September 4, 2018, and my Maw Maw died on December 28, 2019. They were both 94.

My family began to clean out their house in January of 2020.

They gave me that Sony ICF-24, to which I gladly took it.

And that radio is what this piece will be a review thereof.

Sony always made quality radios and they were a coveted item when I was growing up

Fun fact, I didn’t shop at Radio Shack on the regular until I was 14 going on 15. I didn’t know what a scanner radio was until I was 14 and a half. My family didn’t have Internet access until I was 13 and a half. There were no video game consoles in the house until I was 10 going on 11. So the bulk of my entertainment aside from watching television was listening to the radio. It was boring sometimes and I often believe that I should have been born 10 years later. What is weird is when I look at pictures of myself as a child, the hairstyle I had looks more like the hairstyles kids had in the 2010s and this decade as well. I think a time or two my classmates in grade school commented on how I was probably from the future, but I digress. Seriously I would have done better on so many levels had I been born 10 years later, but maybe my life would have been so good that I would have never realized my desperate need for Christ.

Most people in my age group appreciated radio in their childhood but have since gotten away from it and similar technologies. It seems to me that all they want to do is eat out and watch Netflix. However, it seems that younger people, as in those in their teens and early-to-mid-twenties are indeed interested in radio technologies. Because of them, it is making a strong comeback. See why I say I should have been born 10 years later?! And if you don’t believe me, just look around on YouTube. I will say that people my age watch more broadcast television than their GI, Silent, Boomer, and GenX counterparts. Millennials and Zoomers are either using a streaming service or watching broadcast television. This is because we realize cable is a ripoff and many of us couldn’t afford it anyway. However, I was watching broadcast television since my teens, mostly as an experiment. I was doing it before it was cool to do so. In my childhood and up until my very early twenties, even a basic cable package could deliver some pretty superb programming, but some time around 2010, things started to change. By the way, my Paw Paw was from the GI Generation and my Maw Maw was on the cusp between GI and Silent and as I said before, they were hooked on cable news, especially my Maw Maw. I can see why though, they were old enough to have witnessed plenty of history and they lived in an area that was not quite rural but not quite the suburbs either. So watching television with an antenna proved quite troublesome and I’m guessing they figured it was easier just to subscribe to cable.

Look at me I am very off track and way out of focus, but at least I said things that needed to be said.

Sometimes, more like many times, this blog is quite therapeutic for me.

…Back to the piece at hand…

I was always impressed by the tuning accuracy this radio provides, especially on AM. I am equally impressed by its AM DXing capabilities. That is what I used it for most these days.

And here is why:

It lacks an Automatic Frequency Control circuit for FM.

…And…

I happen to reside near an FM transmitter tower.

So, unless I want to listen to the signal that is provided by that said nearby tower, this radio is useless for FM because I cannot listen to any other FM station on this radio.

I do have other FM-capable radios with AFC and other signal filtering capabilities, but it would be nice if I could pretend I am Carlisle Snowden and use it to listen to NPR.

For those who don’t know, Carlisle Snowden is a character I created a little over a year ago. He is a tortured artist who listens to NPR to inspire his creativity. He lives in a cheap condominium because of his poverty and can only afford vintage or second-hand electronics. Therefore, he uses a Sony ICF-24 to receive NPR’s programming. The name of the story series is “Bohemian America” for those who are interested and I have a post containing excerpts from that series.

Let’s get down to the details of the radio:

It features a sturdy handle for carrying.

A telescoping rod antenna for FM listening that can be set in very diverse positions.

There is a very well-engineered internal ferrite bar antenna for AM listening.

The ample-sized speaker is excellent with the voice and even music reproduction.

There is also a headphone jack, but I don’t recall ever using it.

The power cord is hard-wired into the radio, but there is a space to place it behind the battery cover whilst using it on the go.

The alternative power source is 4 AA Alkaline batteries and the run time is highly generous. I mean, while I was growing up it had the same batteries for years, but still performed perfectly.

The power switch is independent of the volume knob.

And speaking of the volume knob, despite being in a house that could be tremendously dusty at the times, there is no static when turning it. That should speak volumes, no pun intended, in and of itself given the radio is about 25 years old at the time of me writing this!

There is a red LED tuning indicator to show when the radio is locked onto a signal.

The dial is clear and detailed, there is even a log scale for both AM and FM!

The cabinet is very sturdy and maybe even rugged, at least for home or office use.

So yes, even without an AFC circuit, this radio is still a fine piece of work, as are most Sony products!

I’m just wondering though if any radios made today, will still function flawlessly 25 years later?

I didn’t listen to AM on the regular until I was 16, but FM reception on this radio was nice as a child and early teenager since my grandparents’ house was not too close to an FM transmitter. When I play it now, I usually use it for nighttime AM Dxing experiments. It’s after midnight at the time of me writing this piece and if I wasn’t up to monitor the severe weather that is due in my area, I might be doing some AM DXing with this radio.

As I mentioned before, my one gripe about this radio is the lack of an AFC circuit as does my more modern Sony ICF-P26.

One would think a company like Sony could put an AFC circuit in their most entry-level FM radio receivers.

For that shortcoming, I will take off three-quarters of a point.

So that means I give this product a 4.25 out of 5 stars.

On a slightly related note, I am 34 at the time of writing this piece and I couldn’t tell you, the reader, a single hit song of this year or decade (aside from the Christian singers) without consulting Google. That makes me feel quite old because when my parents were in their mid-thirties they knew all of the popular music. My Dad kept up with the current music into his early 60s, maybe he still does. I mean he knew who Billie Eilish is. In my defense music at that time was awesome whereas I don’t think I would like the music of today. When I do listen to terrestrial radio, unless I am trying to receive distant AM stations it is either tuned to a Christian station or NPR. I would like to see [secular] music get good again, but I won’t hold my breath. If you, the reader, want my honest opinion: Country music became stupid at some point in early 2013. Before that, in fact, in 2012, it was still wonderful. As for mainstream music, it became stupid sometime after 2018, but before then it was pretty nice too. Rap became stupid some time in either 2004 or 2005. Christian Contemporary Music has become much better in the last few years though. I’ll be honest, I didn’t care for it, even after getting saved at the age of 17, but some time in my early thirties, I began to enjoy it thoroughly! Last Sunday at church, the sound system operator was playing a track while waiting for the service to begin. The melody sounded like something from the Post-Grunge era of the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the lyrics were all about praising God. I was thoroughly impressed! Never once did I think I could see Grunge music and Christian music fused like that but it was beautiful!

All in all, I guess this, therefore, concludes my review of the Sony ICF-24.

I know I had deviated from the main subject quite a bit, but I sincerely hope that you, the reader, have been informed, enlightened, and maybe even entertained.

May God richly bless you!

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